Posted in Misc. Ramblings, Reading

Growing Readers with Reader’s Notebooks…Part 2…Grades 3-5

“Free!”  It’s amazing how one little four letter word can generate so much excitement in the teaching world!  About a month ago I create a post titled Growing Readings with Reader’s Notebooks with a subtitled of FREE Notebooks Included.  Well…let’s just say it was one of my most viewed posts to date.  In that post I shared my reader’s notebook templates for grades K-2.  In response, I had a lot of upper grade teachers (3-5) asking for my templates for intermediate notebooks.

I have always felt that my K-2 notebooks should be a stepping stone to a more traditional regular old spiral or composition book style reader’s notebook.   I really feel like in the upper grades the notebooks need to be more flexible as a tool.  But…how would I roll out and use a blank notebook in these grades?

A colleague and principal friend of mine, Carly Pumphrey, shared the book, Notebook Connections; Strategies for the Reader’s Notebook by Aimee Buckner, with me just after my first blog post.  She said that it was suggested to her by another teacher and she was eager to read it.  Well…that’s all I needed.  I was on Amazon placing my order before I left the parking lot of her school.  Now, mind you, with a copyright of 2009 this is not a new book but after reading the book I found it to still be relevant and helpful.

Before we talk about the “how” of the notebook it is important to keep a few ideas in mind.  First, student should have choice as to how they respond to reading.  Buckner says, “Sometimes being too open-ended is overwhelming and being too restrictive leads to contrived responses.  It’s a delicate balance” (15).    I want students to use the reader’s notebook as a tool to capture their thinking and understanding of the text.  If we give students a structure and closed prompt every day this is not likely to happen.

Modeling is the second, important idea to think about as a teacher.  We, as teachers, will have to model the many different ways that we can respond to what we are reading.  If you find that your notebooks are not turning out as you would like or envisioned then think about what you need to model to help improve students responses.

Another key component to the reader’s notebook is the  importance of students collaboration and conversation.  If you want students to develop their ideas about what they are reading and writing they need to TALK before, during, and after they write!  Buckner says, “I’m not asking questions and looking for specific answers.  We’re talking about our thinking during our reading of the book.  As I teach comprehension strategies and the children become used to thinking while they read and to recognizing that thinking, the conversations initiated and generated by students become easier and more natural” (106).  These conversations lead to better written responses.  You will notice that every single lesson idea posed in this book has a component where students are TALKING about what they are reading.

So…how do we start with Reader’s Notebooks in the upper grades?  First I would suggest that you need to determine your purpose for the notebooks in your classroom.  Ask your self these questions (Buckner, 115):

  1. What reading curriculum objectives/standards am I trying to accomplish using the readers notebook as a tool?
  2. What writing curriculum objectives/standards will the reader’s notebook support?
  3. How often will students write in their reader’s notebook?
  4. What will students be responsible for having their reader’s notebook.

I would suggest writing down your answers to these questions.  They will help guide your instruction with the notebook as well as help you reflect and refine your notebooks throughout the year.

Then…where next?  The really neat part of this book is that the author poses lesson ideas and then shows you what it looks like and sounds like in action along with sample student responses.  Here is the progression of notebooks in the course of a year:

  • Getting to know students as readers (Chapter 2)
  • From Comprehension Strategies to Notebooks (Chapter 3)
  • Reading Like a Writer (Chapter 4)

The book finished up with how to dig deeper and assessment as a tool for teaching.

This book contains many mini-lessons to help roll out the notebook and writing responses as well as strategies to comprehend and go deeper with the texts we are reading.  To help you get started I pulled out the first four lessons she writes about using to jump start the year.  Most of these lessons can and should be revisited throughout the year as well.  I pulled out lesson and then included some of the information from the text that would help you grasp the full concept of the lessons.

Here are those lessons:  Reader’s Notebook Lessons from Notebook Connections . If you haven’t not read this book and want to dig deeper (because there is so much more that she says that is fabulous that I couldn’t possibly capture in one blog post) you can find on Amazon for $21.  It is a small and fairly short book only 145 pages!  Check it out!

Be sure to keep checking in on the link above as I’m going to continue to add more lessons which are modified from the book.  If you are a google drive user and you “add the folder to drive” you will automatically have the latest and greatest lessons.

I look forward to continuing the conversation about Reader’s Notebooks throughout the summer and this upcoming school year!

 

Posted in Reading

Growing Readers with Reader’s Notebooks

One common comment I hear teachers make is, “My students are reading and can talk about what they are reading but they do not respond well to what they are reading in writing!”  Reading and writing go hand in hand…the more the read the better they should be able to write.  But, often times the writing is a barrier for students.  How can we begin to break down that barrier?  I think the answer partially lies in the use of Reader’s Notebooks.

In the last school year our entire county focused on getting back to the basics of the Reader’s Workshop model and getting kids to LOVE reading.  Sessions were offered last summer and throughout the school year for teachers in our county as well as the specific professional development in our own building.  One part of that professional development was based on the 4 ways that readers respond to what they read.  Readers can…

  1.  react to the text by telling what they learned.
  2.  ask questions about things they read.
  3.  make a personal connection to what they read.
  4.  learn something new about things they read.

About mid-year one of my Kindergarten teachers, Mrs. Jen Barlup, came to me and said that she wanted to start teaching her K students to respond in writing to what they were reading.  She really felt like they were in a good place with reading and wanted to push them to that next level.  So she and I crafted our first version of the Reader’s Notebook together.

Kindergarten Notebook File (FREE)

Kindergarten Notebook File with Lines (FREE)

In our notebook, we incorporated the four ways to respond with a structured notebook that allowed students to write and still allowed them room to draw pictures if they needed to.  We both felt it was also important that this what not something they had to write in every time they read a book…we wanted to keep the joy of reading.  Jen decided to use this notebook a couple of times a week.  Sometimes she would ask them to respond to one of books they were reading by choosing and writing ANY one of the 4 responses of their choice.   Other days she would ask them to choose a book and have everyone write a specific response.  For example, she would say, “Today I want you to choose a book and respond in your reader’s notebook by writing down a questions that you thought of while reading.”  No matter if it was a day when she gave them choice in their written responses or a specific response at the end of her workshop she would have students share those responses with the class.

By the end of the year word had spread about our Reader’s Notebook in Kindergarten.  In fact grades 1 and 2 asked me to craft a version for their grade level.  Keeping in mind that I want students to, eventually by intermediate grades, use a blank notebook to respond so I wanted to scaffold a little less in my grade 1 and 2 notebook.

Grade 1/2 Reader’s Notebook File (FREE)

In this next notebook we wanted more space to write.  You will see in this version that students have lots of room to write and the back of the notebook includes a genre list and log.   

In addition to using Reader’s Notebooks when sharing in whole group, this is also a great tool when conferencing with students.  It is helpful to be able to see not only how they are responding to text but the types of text they are reading.  This notebook is a great way to set goals with students.  I encourage teachers to use post-it notes to record student’s strategies and goals to follow up with inside the notebook.

Keep in mind that it is really important to TEACH and MODEL how you students should respond to their reading through the reader’s notebook.  This is not a notebook to just put in their hands and expect them to do well.   It might take a week or more of mini-lessons to model the use of the notebook.  Also keep in mind that we DO NOT want to kill the LOVE of READING…students do not need to write about what they are reading for every book or every day.  It’s all about balance!

If you choose to use this let me know how it goes.  I really feel like everything I do on my own and with my teachers is a work in progress.  I’m open to feedback and push back because it only makes us better teachers!

Printing notes…in our school system we are VERY fortunate to have a Print Shop.  We are able to send this file to printing and they make our books.  We have used spirals in the past but we really love this printed on 11×17 paper and folded and stapled in the middle.  Our print shop prints on both sides of the front and back covers as well.  If you choose to use these files you may not be so fortunate but know that this can also just be run out of standard copy machines and bound as well.